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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 146
Part 1 - Counselor ch'Raul at Your Service

September 2409
Twenty-three months before the events in Literary Challenge 39
Monday, 0827 hours


Some people just don't get it, Commander ch'Raul thought. Polite, tactful responses weren't getting the desired response. It was time to be blunt. He replied calmly, without a trace of emotion in his voice. "Do you at least understand the dilemma here? Clearly not. Starfleet is a military organization, yes, but our goal is not the utter and complete annihilation of anyone and everyone who opposes our values."

Ensign Smith visibly shuddered. "But the Tholians ambushed us while we were in Federation space. They deserved to die. Our Captain is weak."

"I think it's safe to say that everyone on the ship agrees that the Tholians were in the wrong, and the Captain did the right thing defending us and disabling their ships. Do you remember how we left them? Both ships had main propulsion and weapons systems disabled. One ship had multiple hull breaches and was being evacuated. Do you wish that we had slaughtered them while they were defenseless? "

"How else will we teach their kind a lesson?"

"Alright, let's talk about lessons. What is your background in, Ensign?"

"I have a doctorate in reptilian anatomy, sir."

Checkmate. "And I have a doctorate in clinical psychology, and a second one in pantheistic religions. So let me explain this to you. Leaving the Tholians alive was an act of mercy. We don't want them to make them extinct - we just want to have a peaceful coexistence. There is no rational reason to destroy ships full of sentient beings just because you are mad at them. I think you must have suffered an injustice from another race as a child, perhaps from the Borg or Klingons?"

"Well, actually..." Smith looked down at her folded hands.

This is going to be interesting, ch'Raul thought.

---

Monday, 0931 hours


Chief Engineer Jarvis was on a mission. All was calm in the engine room, so he could take a moment and focus on a personal matter. He circled main engineering, looking for Lieutenant Fuerstenau.

After a few minutes he realized where his least favorite junior officer was - in the Jeffries tubes between decks 7 and 8, recalibrating a relatively unimportant piece of technology. Fuerstenau didn't mean to cause trouble, but he just wasn't the most talented engineer in the group. Jarvis hoped that Fuerstenau was good-natured enough to not realize that he always got the least important assignments.

He thought about having the conversation over the comm but decided that would be awkward. So, he asked the computer for Fuerstenau's current location and began crawling.

"Do you need a hand Lieutenant?" Jarvis didn't want to help, but figured that this introduction would break the ice well.

"Thank you sir, but I'm almost done here. I'm not late again, am I? I'm sorry that I'm not the fastest..."

Jarvis cut him off. "That is not why I am here. I was hoping to have a short personal talk. Is that alright?"

The tension drained from Fuerstenau's face. "Of course. What is it?"

"Would you be willing to write a short thank you note to the counselor?"

Fuerstenau looked down at the bottom of the tube. "You know, that's probably not a bad idea. It's been three months since Amy died in that fight against the Undine. I'm just now starting to feel like I can live again. I'd be happy to write him a note. Is he leaving or something?"

---

Tuesday, 1237 hours

Jarvis had spent his entire lunch break trying to convince the senior staff to contribute for Saturday's surprise. Glotz was the lone holdout. He put his fork down and looked Jarvis in the eye. "I'm sorry but I really just don't like the guy. He uses his counselor title as an excuse for his superiority complex. I doubt I could find something nice to say for his obituary."

Jarvis fought the urge to roll his eyes. "You have to admit that he's been effective though. Our last counselor was an idealist who thought everyone could be healed by a smile and a handshake. What do you talk about with ch'Raul in your semi-annual review?"

"I talk about my wives. He finds Denobulan sexuality interesting."

"Of course he would. Denobulans and Andorians have the most confusing mating patterns in the galaxy."

Glotz smiled. "At least with Denobulans it is clear what a person's gender is. I have no idea if ch'Raul is a thaan or a chan. I am pretty sure he is male, but with Andorians, how can you be sure? I can write a note mocking him. That'd be fun."

Jarvis stood up and grabbed his food tray. "I just need the note by 1200 hours on Saturday. Thanks Glotz."

---

Wednesday, 0841 hours

Supporting colonies in far-flung nebulae was one of the most boring responsibilities that Captain Everitt Carter ever had. No one in their right mind would care to live in the Betreka Nebula, so why should the Federation care? Or maybe the early morning was souring an otherwise thrilling day of replicating supplies for a small colony on a small, hot planet with a friendly name like Hesperit VI.

Carter heard loud footsteps and saw that counselor ch'Raul was on the bridge. This can't be good, he thought as a false smile creased his face. "What is on your mind Commander?" Addressing ch'Raul according to his rank instead of his position was Carter's favorite way of showing disrespect for the profession.

"We need to speak privately right away, sir." He tapped a padd against his left palm while waiting for Carter to stand up. Carter decided that almost anything would be better than sitting on the bridge watching Hesperit VI rotate, so he led the Andorian commander to his ready room.

ch'Raul started speaking as soon as they were seated. "I would like you to extend an invitation for this officer to join your crew. I feel that he would make a positive contribution."

Carter took the padd and examined the profile of a Jem'Hadar named Kerna'tharan. He was a tactical officer (of course) with no experience serving on Federation vessels. "I take it that he is part of the officer exchange program we have with our allies in the Dominion." He thought that was a non-confrontational way of saying "why are you wasting my time?"

"Actually sir, he hasn't applied for the program yet. I am hoping that your offer will be the motivation he needs to apply and not waste his life."

"A Jem'Hadar who is not motivated? Why would I want a lazy Jem'Hadar on my tactical team? Since when did you become an expert in the needs of my security department anyway?" Carter made a mental note to ask security chief Hillel if he was aware of this strange request.

ch'Raul was perfectly calm. "You know that I joined your crew after spending two years in the Gamma Quadrant as part of the officer exchange program. I have seen what Jem'Hadar do after being wounded in action. My replacement sends me information on new patients. Kerna'tharan is struggling to find a purpose in life, and I think that you can give him one.

"Do you know what the suicide rate is for wounded Jem'Hadar? No one kept records until after the Dominion War since it was assumed that anyone who was injured was not victorious. I asked to be given an advisory post working with the Dominion in 2401, but they weren't open to the idea of a counselor interfering with their troops until a few years ago."

Carter leaned back in his chair and rolled his eyes. "Thank you for the history lesson commander, but why do I care?"

"Please let me continue. When I arrived, I learned that the suicide rate for wounded Jem'Hadar was 100 percent. This is entirely unacceptable. We're talking about thousands of Jem'Hadar who end their lives because they feel like they cannot make a contribution to society if they can't kill other sentient beings. Thanks to my efforts, the overall suicide rate has plunged to 64 percent. But among amputees, the figure is still around 100 percent.

"Kerna'tharan is one of the rare patients who actually listen to what we have to say. My replacement, Doctor Kinnison, tells me that without radical intervention, Kerna'tharan will probably kill himself. By taking him in, you not only save his life but also show thousands of other Jem'Hadar that life is still worth living when you are not in pristine fighting shape."

"This is very touching commander, but I don't have any open positions on this ship." Carter stood up and replicated another coffee. He intentionally did not ask ch'Raul if he wanted anything.

ch'Raul also stood. "Please don't turn this down. It would take months for a transfer to take effect. All I am asking is for you to give hope to a wounded solider, and possibly countless other soldiers as well."

I've had enough, Carter thought. "I don't need any more officers now." He turned to walk out of the room.

"If you ignore this request, Kerna'tharan's blood will be on your hands."

Carter spun around. "You have no right to make that kind of accusation! I can do whatever I damned well please on this vessel. Find someone else to take care of your one-legged Jem'Hadar."

"He is only missing his left hand. Dr. Evans could fit him with a prosthesis in a matter of hours." The door closed, leaving ch'Raul alone in the ready room.

---

Wednesday, 1449 hours

ch'Raul made a mental note to keep Mehn's counseling sessions at the end of the day. He was almost twenty minutes behind schedule thanks to Mehn's stubbornness. "Lieutenant, Pahkwa-thanh traditions have intrinsic value, but you also have to respect your shipmates. Asking someone to surrender their arm because you are starving and the staff meeting is running late is taking things too far. Do you agree?"

Mehn shifted his weight and wagged his tail around. "I don't see the problem. It was just a joke."

"So here's a joke for you. I like eating lizards. You look like one. Do you want to be barbecued or roasted?"

The Pahkwa-thanh stood in silence for a few moments. "You can't be serious."

"The only reason why you aren't taking me serious is because you weigh a hundred kilograms more than me and have sharper teeth. I don't pose a natural threat to you. Consider for a while the fact that half the crew probably thinks that you are a Gorn. The anatomical differences between Gorn and Pahkwa-thanh are not obvious to the untrained eye. So people see you as a predator from a people with a history of violence. Then you talk about eating people. It's not hard to see why you were enrolled in mandatory counseling sessions.

"Here is your choice: you can either grow up or I recommend to Captain Carter that you aren't worth keeping. We'll be at Deep Space K-7 in a month, where he can safely dump you. What will it be?"

---

Friday, 1524 hours

A Luna-class starship was much too small to hide from people, especially when they were both on the command staff. Wednesday's discussion still soured his opinion of ch'Raul, but Carter knew that the Andorian commander had some good suggestions when it came to personnel reviews. They were alone in the main conference room, waiting for the disciplinary review to start. Carter rubbed his bald forehead and looked at ch'Raul. "Are you sure this is the best way to do it?"

ch'Raul nodded. "Ensign Alvarez knows that she causes strife and discord. There's no reason to dance around the topic. She's one of the best astrometric scientists in the fleet, but her interpersonal skills are horrendous. Be blunt with her, but try and draw the line between her actions and her person. You don't want her to feel like a failed human being when she leaves."

"What if I don't care? Ok, don't answer that. I just don't see the distinction between her actions and her intrinsic value as a sentient being. If she's a troublemaker on purpose, then she is a bad person. End of story."

"That is why I am the counselor, not you." The door chime announced the arrival of Ensign Alvarez. "It's your show now captain."

Carter rolled his eyes. "Enter."
---

Saturday, 1758 hours

Everitt Carter stood outside Holodeck Two, waiting for ch'Raul. It was time to talk about Wednesday's discussion.

ch'Raul arrived at exactly 1800 hours. Carter put his right hand up to indicate that he wanted to talk prior to entering the holodeck for the monthly senior staff poker game. "I just wanted to apologize for yelling at you," he said with as much enthusiasm as he could muster.

"There is no apology necessary, captain," ch'Raul replied. "I tried to talk you into helping me by convincing you that you would be personally responsible for thousands of deaths if you refused my request. That was unbecoming of a Federation officer. I am the one who should be apologizing."

"Your passion is what makes you good at the job. The last counselor that we had onboard was utterly useless. You are close to convincing me that the position is worthwhile. I also wanted to let you know that I contacted Kerna'tharan and extended an offer for him to join the crew."

ch'Raul smiled. "Thank you for that. He contacted me a few hours ago to let me know. Jem'Hadar are not known for their expressions of joy - much like Vulcans really - but this was as close to happiness as I have ever seen a Jem'Hadar. Thank you very much."

An awkward pause was followed by both men entering the holodeck.

ch'Raul was anxious to get things underway. It was his birthday, and he never really liked celebrating himself. His life was dedicated to helping people, but for some reason, self-esteem was hard to come by personally. The success with Kerna'tharan was worth celebrating more than his birthday.

Chief Engineer Raul Jarvis shuffled the cards for longer than necessary and then reached under the table. "It's only fitting that we take a minute to celebrate the work that ch'Raul is doing on our lovely ship. Yes, we know it's your birthday, and we know that you appreciate written correspondence more than the electronic garbage you are bombarded with." Jarvis dumped a stack of papers on the table, right where the bets go. "These are from the crew. You are appreciated more than you know. Take your time in reading them when you get back to your quarters. Happy birthday!"

---

Saturday, 2147 hours

ch'Raul finished reading the stack of papers and looked at his notes and then read the tally he made. Generic thank yous: seven. Marriage problems: four. Grief counseling: seventeen. Baby Rachelle's death still haunts me two months later. Questioning my sexuality: one. Glotz!

----------------------------------------

Part 2 - Dating Advice


August 2411
This takes place simultaneously with the events in Literary Challenge 39


Miguel Jarvis awoke to the red alert klaxon. It took about three seconds to be coherent enough to speak to Lieutenant Tomkot in engineering. The Bolian informed him that Lieutenant Carpenter was scared about some Borg wreckage, even though there was no enemy in sight. Jarvis sighed, thanked Tomkot for the information, and went to the replicator to get a ratkajino. He knew it was going to be a long day.

Retrieving the lone Borg lifesign in the wreckage seemed foolish, but it did give Jarvis an opportunity to try the new automated flight controls on the shuttle Asher. Several people had suggested that Jarvis create or place a sentient photonic being onboard to serve as the pilot, but that didn't sit well with him. The whole point behind the Asher project was to have a ship smart enough to do something like a high-risk rescue mission without putting another life on the line.

Asher performed the rendezvous flawlessly. Things were going well until the final approach. The padd in Jarvis' hand started making harsh tones and warning of a growing feedback loop between Asher and Odyssey's automated docking system. Then Asher's nose plowed into the deck plating. The only casualty was to Jarvis' pride.

---

Amanda Carpenter called Jarvis on the comm as soon as she was off of deck one. Once again, she had let her feelings get in the way of sound judgment. It looked like this was the metaphorical last straw. Carter told her to take a few days off, which was certainly a polite way of saying that he was going to find someone else to be acting captain for gamma shift and couldn't think of what to do with her.

She found Jarvis outside main engineering and literally fell into his arms. Tears flowed freely as he held her and gently massaged her head.

---

Jarvis was grateful that he scattered his engineers to the four corners of the ship before Amanda came. Most of his people knew about his relationship with Amanda, but he didn't think it would be appropriate for everyone to see her fall apart in public.

As he calmed her, he realized that his personal and professional lives had a lot in common. He sought out problems and tried to solve them. This made him an outstanding engineer, but not necessarily a great companion.

He had grown restless after six years of marriage to his wife Tracy. He couldn't understand how she constantly dealt with self-esteem issues. Two years later he was dating Amanda, who occasionally made less-than-perfect decisions like waking up the entire crew over Borg wreckage. He was a repair main at heart. Dealing with long-term problems without simple solutions tested his sanity.

And then an explosion rocked the floor. He removed himself from Amanda's grip and quickly determined what had happened. Someone had deemed the Borg prisoner a threat and ejected the brig into space. That person was proven right half a second later when the brig exploded.

He wiped the tears from Amanda's face and looked into her eyes. "It looks like I am going to be busy for a few hours. We need to make a new brig. Will you be ok in your quarters?"

"Sure." Her gaze never left the floor.

"I will come as soon as this fiasco is over. I love you." He kissed her forehead and turned towards his office.

---

Two days later

Jarvis and ch'Raul were in the ship's bowling alley on deck 13. There were only two lanes, and each man had reserved one of them for two hours. Neither one of them was very good at bowling, but that was not why they were there.

"It sounds like you truly love Amanda. You are going to have to accept that her personal struggles do not have easy solutions. I bet that if you were honest you would find a long-lasting problem in your own life."

Jarvis sat down in one of the empty chairs. "As always, I think that you are right. I married Tracy with the expectation that I'd solve her self-esteem within a year or two. I let my desire to fix things override my affection for her, and that ended rather poorly. I am at the same impasse with Amanda and I don't want to lose her. But it is frustrating to see her consistently make decisions without thinking them through. It cost her job of gamma shift captain."

ch'Raul's normally stoic face turned into a smile. "You are overreacting. Does she truly make impulsive decisions consistently? I doubt that. What is your character flaw? Being impatient. Admit it to yourself, then admit it to Amanda and tell her that she is worth so much to you that you are not going to let your impatience prevent you from loving her. Problem solved." He picked up his ball and rolled it into the gutter. "Now, how about solving my problem? I can't seem to score higher than 75 in this game."

---

The next day


"Personal log, supplemental. I finally had a talk with Amanda about my desire to fix everything and my impatience when that doesn't happen. She listened and then told me that she'd already seen that problem and was afraid that it would ruin our relationship. I told her that I was committed to making things work with her, and that she had the right to tell me when I let my engineer mentality get in the way.

"I still feel bad about Captain Carter taking her position of gamma shift captain away, but there is one benefit. Now Amanda is working on alpha shift in the Operations group. We finally work the same shift, which means we will have more time together. I can't complain about that. End log."

Jarvis stopped pacing his room, picked up the flowers and a small box on the table, and headed for Amanda Carpenter's quarters.

Last edited by superhombre777; 03-09-2013 at 01:32 PM.